It’s a Great Time to Sell Your Gold!

You may have seen rising gold prices on the news, and that’s because prices haven’t been this high in over a year! The precious metal went up as much as 1.25%, or $16.75 an ounce, to as high as $1,268.45 according to The Business Insider.

To visually understand how much gold values have risen per ounce, here is a chart from May ’15 to April ’16.


Click here to see most recent stats!


If you’re thinking of selling gold, right now is a great opportunity to bring any of your precious metals. Stop by any of our Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers locations and we’d be happy to assist you:

How to Choose the Best Earrings for Your Face

With all of the earring choices out there in dangles, hoops, chandeliers and drop earrings, it can seem a little overwhelming to choose a style that suits you best! We’ve put together a handy guide for which style of earring is most flattering to every face shape.

A round face loves long, slim earrings to help slim and lengthen. Ovals and rectangles are a better choice than circular earrings for you.



A square face is most flattered by softer edges; stick to round or oval earrings. Hoops look great on you!



Oval faces have it easy – everything looks good on them! Just keep the length of the earring to your chin to avoid making your face look long.



Heart-shaped faces are balanced out by earrings that have more volume on the bottom than the top. Triangular and tear drop earrings are stunning on you!



Too many choices? Don’t worry, a pair of classic diamond studs looks amazing on everyone!



Find all of these, plus a wide selection of other earrings to suit your needs, at Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers.

Rare Pearls from Unusual Sources


When we think of a pearl, we oftentimes conjure up images of hard, white round beads with an iridescent luster, that come from the bivalve known as an oyster. In reality, all mollusks are capable of producing pearls, however, wild pearls are very rare, so most pearls available on the market today are cultured, or farmed, with the help of human intervention. This happens by introducing a foreign body—usually a small bead for cultured pearls, or a pebble or grain of sand in a wild pearl—into the living creature while it is still alive, and waiting for the animal to essentially grow layers of nacre around it, thus creating a pearl. Nacre is the term used to describe the outer layers of the pearl that give it that iridescent luster. Nacre is actually an immune response secreted to protect the organism from injury due to parasites, foreign bodies or physical damage. Once nacre is produced, it forms layers to encapsulate the foreign body, thus producing a pearl. Pearl farmers use that function to their advantage to impregnate the mollusks with tiny beads of mantle tissue from a donor shell, then they wait (6 months all the way up to 7 years for some varieties) for the creature to produce the thin layers of nacre around the bead, in order to generate mass quantities of cultured pearls. The vast majority of most pearls used in jewelry today are cultured.


There are lots of different varieties of pearls available today. Wild (natural) salt water pearls, cultured salt water pearls, freshwater mussel pearls, and cultured freshwater pearls are all very common types of pearls. Some lesser known pearls that stand out for their unique beauty are the quahog pearl and the conch pearl. Let’s explore those last two.1024px-Pearl-variety_hg

A quahog is a hard shelled clam that is native to the New England waters of the northeast United States. Quahog shells fashioned into beads were used for hundreds of years by the Native Americans as wampum, or money, with the bright purple hues equaling the most value. Occasionally a bit of debris or a foreign body will enter the quahog’s shell and in reaction, it will start producing nacre to protect it from the invading material. The end result is a beautiful purplish pearl that can vary in degrees of color intensity. Since they are rare and no known cultured quahog pearls have been produced, they are quite expensive. Many of these pricy finds have been discovered by accident—usually while eating a meal prepared with the meat found inside the quahog!


A conch pearl is a little bit different. It comes from the marine gastropod known as the Queen Conch, hailing from the warm waters surrounding the Caribbean. These pearls do not have nacre—they instead have a porcelain- like finish and come in a range of colors from white to brown to orange, and their most prized colors, vibrant hues of reds and pinks. Conch pearls are formed by concentric layers of fibrous crystals that give them their unique flame- like appearance, so while these beauties are technically considered pearls, and they are form in a similar way, they have a very different luster. Since the conch produces these pearls deep inside its shell, it is not possible for scientists to culture a conch pearl without harming the animal.


Quahog and conch pearls are valuable in their own right because they are rare and are not created with the help of humans, unlike cultured pearls. They are produced strictly by nature, so to come across one of these exquisite treasures can be truly special.



5 Ways to Tell if Gold is Real



  1. The Magnet Test

In order to get the most accurate result for this method you must make sure you have a good magnet. Not a weak magnet like a fridge magnet but more like one you could buy at a hardware store. Place your gold up against the magnet and if it pulls towards the magnet you know its fake. But if the gold does not pull, that doesn’t automatically mean it’s real either. Unfortunately, non-magnetic metals are also used in counterfeit gold so this is just one way to eliminate a percentage of the possibility.



  1. The Nitric Acid Test

This method is a great way to test your gold. You begin by placing your gold in a stainless steel container. Then you place a drop of nitric acid onto the gold. It will do one of four different chemical reactions. If your item is metal or gold plated the color will turn green. If its gold plated brass it’ll turn a gold color. If it’s gold-plated sterling silver it will turn a milky color. Lastly, if your gold is real there would be no reaction in the gold.


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  1. Visual Inspection for Stamps

One of the easiest and fasted way to tell if your gold is real is to inspect your jewelry for stamps. There are a few different stamps you should be looking for. A stamp will indicate either the fineness (1-999 or .1-.999) or the karat (10K, 14K, 18K, 22K or 24K). Sometimes the stamp might be small therefore you could use a magnifying glass. With older gold you do also need to keep in mind there is a chance there wont be a stamp if it’s old enough, in that case, you would need further testing.

Brielle Curved Split Shank Band-A copy


  1. The Density Test

Another quick method to eliminate the chance that its not 100% real would be to place it in a cup of water. Any size of genuine gold will automatically sink when submerged in water. Any other type of metal would typically float at the top or slowly sink.

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  1. Professional Appraisal

Of course the most certain way to determine whether your gold is genuine or not would be to take it to a reliable jeweler. Bring your item to any of our locations for a free and quick test to determine your gold content. It might be worth more than you think!

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10 Colorful Spring Jewelry Trends

What a fun way to start off this amazing 2016 than by keeping up with the latest trends! Pantone has announced the next 10 shades that are trending this spring season! Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, said, “Colors this season transport us to a happier, sunnier place where we feel free to express a wittier version of our real selves.”

There are many colors to explore from the bright vivid tones that embrace curiosity and excitement, to the calm tranquil colors that encourage relaxation and serenity. This unisex palette is the perfect opportunity to let the gemstone world sparkle and shine and, at Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers, we will have the perfect match for you!


Rose Quartz


Discover unforgettable elegance with this beautiful Beverley K. necklace that captures the essence of Spring! Deemed one of “the” hues of 2016 by Pantone, Rose Quartz is an essential shade that combines well with everything!


Peach Echo

99782159This timeless treasure is sassy and classy, with our vintage coral cabochon earrings! The gorgeous peachy hues accent any outfit and add a gentle touch that’ll soften any look.



99789396_copyArtistically accent your neckline with our Art Deco-inspired Beverley K. sapphire and diamond necklace. Let the sound of the waves drift you away into a peaceful bliss of tranquility as you wear this stunning piece.


Snorkel Blue

99788047_copyAs blue as the Pacific waters, our vibrant and sparkling blue sapphire and diamond dangle earrings are sure to make heads turn! Sophisticated yet playful, these eye-catching beauties will step up any outfit and make a statement.




This vintage Golden South Sea Pearl Necklace captures the beautiful sight of Spring flowers blooming and birds singing. Golden like the sun, let this necklace stand out and brighten up any look!


Limpet Shell

99776465-99762661Modern and crisp, this aquamarine and diamond pendant defines the shade Limpet Shell. The combination of aqua blues and mellow greens, create a unique ocean-like resemblance and will add a hint of nature-inspired beauty to your look.


Lilac Gray


Spruce up your style with this Lana Mystiq Necklace and become bold and fashionable! The unique incorporation of black mother-of-pearl and quartz, presents a one-of-a-kind edgy finish.



99793299_copyThe definition is absolutely in the name! Add a pop of excitement into your outfit with this fiery, vivid Fiesta red Art Deco-inspired coral, onyx, and diamond necklace! Perfect for any celebration, this necklace will add warmth and exhilaration into your wardrobe!


Iced Coffee

99791646_copyKnown as one of the strongest neutrals in this palette, this vintage light brown and white diamond ring will match well with any outfit. With its natural earthy tones, its softness combines perfectly with the rest of this season’s palette.


Green Flash


Flashy and dazzling, this exquisite vintage emerald and diamond cocktail ring will speak for itself. As one of the more popular brilliant hues, it offers a radiant influence with natural striking beauty.

What Makes Leo Hamel’s Repair Department Special?

Most consumers aren’t aware that many other jewelers that offer “watch repair” or “jewelry repair” don’t have an in-house repair department and have to outsource repairs to another business, which normally comes at a higher price.

Here at Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers in sunny San Diego, we’ve had our own in-house repair department for decades. This makes our repair service time efficient and affordable. Why have your valuables sent out to a third party, when you can safely leave them with the capable jewelers at Leo Hamel?

Our on-site jewelers repair and restore your jewelry, watches and family heirlooms to like-new condition. With over 100 years of combined experience at the bench, our Master Jewelers have the knowledge and expertise to handle your precious items with care. You do not have to be afraid of someone switching a stone or damaging your family heirloom.


Our Master Jewelers were trained in the tradition of apprenticeship, learning their craft while working one-on-one with a Master Jeweler, not in a classroom filled with other students.  Our Rolex Technician was factory-trained in Switzerland and has been repairing fine Swiss watches for over 30 years.

Our expert services include custom jewelry design, restoration of vintage/antique jewelry, re-tipping and re-pronging, rhodium plating, checking for loose stones, battery replacements and watch servicing (cleaning, oiling, adjusting and refinishing). And we guarantee our work with a comprehensive warranty.

With over 35 years in the jewelry business, you know we’ll be here for you in the future should you ever need our help. Come in today to experience the Leo Hamel difference!

watch repair



What Are Colored Diamonds?

When most people think of diamonds, they usually think of a sparkling stone that is white in color. What many people do not know is that there are rare and precious diamonds that are colored! And did you know that only 1 in 10,000 diamonds mined in the world have color?

Yellow and White Diamond Bracelet
Yellow and White Diamond Bracelet

Colored diamonds come in a variety of colors, including:

  • Cognac diamonds
  • Brown diamonds
  • Green diamonds
  • Yellow diamonds
  • Pink diamonds
  • Red diamonds
  • Orange diamonds
  • Blue diamonds
Michael Beaudry Pink Diamond Cross Earrings
Michael Beaudry Pink Diamond Cross Earrings

Yellow diamonds are the most common of the colored diamonds, and putting fancy yellow diamonds in engagement rings and other jewelry is becoming more popular.

Fancy Yellow and White Diamond Earrings
Fancy Yellow and White Diamond Earrings

Out of all of the colored diamonds in the world, red diamonds, pink diamonds, and blue diamonds are the rarest.

Which colored diamond is your favorite?

The Omega Speedmaster: A Unique History

Anyone interested in history, space flight or watch making will want to hear the story of the Omega Speedmaster. A little-known specialty watch in the 1950s, the Speedmaster rose to fame as the watch of the Astronauts and sparked a top secret development program with NASA. It is a symbol of the Space Race era that has endured and remains in use today, outlasting even the iconic Apollo rockets and Space Shuttles. This is a brief history of how it all began.

Apollo 7 commander Wally Schirra prepares to enter the attitude chamber during training. July 26, 1968.

The Moon Watch

During the space program in the mid 1960s, NASA sought a chronograph watch that could withstand the rigors of space flight, for the astronauts. It would have to be very accurate even when exposed to many different extreme environments that do not exist on the Earth’s surface. NASA did not have its own development program for watches, so it turned to the commercial sector to find a suitable piece.


The Omega Speedmaster seemed destined to for fame. The first Speedmaster went into space on the arm of Astronaut Wally Schirra in 1962. It was his personal model and he wore it without any endorsement from NASA, as it was still several years before NASA had its own spaceflight certified watch. Between 1963 and 1964, NASA wanted certify a watch for the Apollo missions and was open to many options. NASA directly reached out to several watch manufacturers to submit chronograph watches candidates for testing. Rolex, Hamilton, Logines-Wittenauer and Omega submitted multiple models.
Between October 1964 and March 1965 NASA subjected the candidate watches to these incredible tests:

  1. High temperature: 48 hours at a temperature of 160°F (71°C) followed by 30 minutes at 200°F (93°C).
  2. Low temperature: 4 hours at a temperature of 0°F (-18°C).
  3. Temperature-Pressure: 15 cycles of heating to 160°F (71°C) for 45 minutes, followed by cooling to 0°F (-18°C) for 45 minutes at 10−6 atm.
  4. Relative humidity: 240 hours at temperatures varying between 68°F and 160°F (20°C and 71°C) in a relative humidity of at least 95%.
  5. Oxygen atmosphere: 48 hours in an atmosphere of 100% oxygen at a pressure of 0.35 atm.
  6. Shock: Six shocks of 40 G, each 11 milliseconds in duration, in six different directions.
  7. Acceleration: From 1 G to 7.25 G within 333 seconds, along an axis parallel to the longitudinal spacecraft axis.
  8. Decompression: 90 minutes in a vacuum of 10-6 atm at a temperature of 160°F (71°C) and 30 minutes at 200°F (93°C).
  9. High pressure: 1.6 atm for a minimum period of one hour.
  10. Vibration: Three cycles of 30 minutes of vibration varying from 5 to 2000 Hz
  11. Acoustic noise: 130 DB over a frequency range of 40 to 10,000 Hz, duration 30 minutes.

In the end, only one watch passed the tests: Omega Speedmaster.
With that, the Speedmaster became NASA’s official watch for space exploration, and each astronaut was equipped with one from that point on.
Now here’s a curious piece of history: despite the monumental achievement, the Omega company in Switzerland was completely unaware that their watch had been selected by NASA! This was because NASA procured the watched from the Omega USA subsidiary, which did not inform Omega headquarters of the project. Omega headquarters only found out by seeing a news photograph of the Speedmaster on the arm of Astronaut Ed White, during America’s first space walk in June, 1965 – almost a year after testing had begun!
It was four years later that the Speedmaster cemented its fame. On July 20th, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin both wore an Omega Speedmaster as they walked on the moon.

This was an unprecedented achievement for an off-the-shelf watch that had not at all been designed with space flight in mind. It remains part of the official gear issued to NASA Astronauts to this day, making it one of the longest continuous-use equipment items in the space program.

Omega Speedmaster 1960
Buzz Aldrin in LM cabin during translunar coast.

The Alaska Project

A few years after adopting Speedmaster for space missions, NASA and Omega partnered to jointly develop a new version of the Speedmaster, designed from the ground up for space exploration.

The project was undertaken in strict secrecy and code named The Alaska Project. The goal of the project was to make the perfect “space watch,” one resistant to extreme temperatures and solar radiation. Function dictated every design decision, leading to first-time innovations in watch making, as well as interesting aesthetic results.

The Alaska Project Speedmaster result looked very different from the original. It was distinguished by the oversized, red, anodized, aluminum casing (removable). The low thermal conductivity of aluminum protected the watch against extreme temperature fluctuations, high and low, while the red color protected against some wavelengths of solar radiation. The watch case itself was made from titanium – a first-time innovation in watch making. The dial color was changed from black to white, because the white color reflected the maximum amount of solar radiation away from the watch.

Omega produced five Alaska Project prototypes by 1969, but by that time time priorities were changing in the space program. NASA decided the original Speedmaster was fulfilling its role as mission watch sufficiently well, so no Alaska Project Speedmasters were ever ordered into production.

A Unique History
No other watch on Earth has such a unique history, nor had any watch endured such rigorous, independent testing of quality as the Speedmaster.
The irony of the Omega Speedmaster is the original, Earth-designed Speedmaster was adopted for the most important space exploration missions in history, and is still NASA’s official space flight watch, while the Space-designed Speedmaster never left the ground.

Omega Pre-Moon Speedmaster

Collectors today can find many versions of the Omega Speedmaster, from modern models to the vintage “pre-moon” versions of the 1950s – 1960s, including a limited collector’s edition of the Alaska Project.

Rolex: The Timepiece of Achievers, a Proven History of Excellence

Rolex: when any of us hear the word we think of precision, status, quality, and a sense of accomplishment. How did a watch come to be synonymous with such adjectives? Many people know the brand, maybe some of their products, but to know the story is worth the read. Rolex was created by Hans Wilsdorf in 1908, after he had already been in the watch distribution business for a few years. Hans had a vision of a wristwatch with unmatched timekeeping ability with an equally unmatched style, and set out to make his vision a reality. Over the next 100 years, Rolex never let Hans’ vision down. Here is a short narrative of why a Rolex is a Rolex; conquering land, air, and sea.

Two-Tone Rolex Submariner

Rolex was the first wristwatch in the world to receive the Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision, granted by the Official Watch Rating Centre in Bienne. The creation by Rolex of the first waterproof and dustproof wristwatch marked a major step forward and was given the name “Oyster.” To gain publicity, a Rolex Oyster was worn by a swimmer crossing the English Channel, arriving on the other side in perfect running order. Rolex invented and patented the world’s first self-winding mechanism with a perpetual rotor, creating the automatic watch. The first expedition to fly over Everest was equipped with Rolex Oysters. The Datejust was the first self-winding wrist chronometer to indicate the date in a window on the dial. Rolex was the first watch to reach the top of Mt. Everest. The Submariner was the first divers watch waterproof to a depth of 100 meters. The GMT-Master was developed to meet the specific needs of airline pilots, assisting with time differences. The Oyster Perpetual Day-Date was the first wristwatch to display not only the date but also the day of the week spelled out in a window on the dial. To assist laboratory scientists, Rolex created the Milgauss, which resists magnetic fields up to 1000 gauss. The third Deep Sea Special was created to withstand the most extreme conditions underwater, achieving a 10,916 meter dive into the Mariana Trench and returning undamaged. A new-generation chronograph, the Cosmograph, soon gained the name that became the mark of an icon: Daytona, designed as the ultimate tool for endurance racing drivers. The Sea-Dweller 4000 is waterproof to a depth of 1,220 meters.

Rolex has never stopped innovating, and doesn’t look like it ever will. The truly special part of this story is you. You can be a part of the past, present, and future of this amazing company by owning a piece of it: a Rolex timepiece. When you wear a Rolex watch, you can observe the precision, feel the status, see the quality, and be ready for your next accomplishment.

Leo Hamel and the watches that Rolex creates have a long history together going back over 35 years. If you are looking to buy a Rolex, sell a Rolex, or repair a Rolex, Leo Hamel’s is your best choice for outstanding service and quality craftsmanship. Leo and his team help our customers to celebrate their accomplishments daily; whether you’re looking for an engagement ring, celebrating an anniversary, or another of life’s significant events, you’ll find it at Leo’s.

Rolex Datejust II

The World’s Largest Diamond – The Cullinan

The Cullinan is the largest gem-quality diamond ever found, measuring in at approximately 4.1 inches in length and 3,106.75 carats, or 1.37 lbs! To put its true size into perspective, it would take 142 separate one-carat diamonds to equal 1 ounce; yet the Cullinan diamond weighs in at almost 22 ounces!

This marvel was discovered in the Premier Mine in South Africa on January 25, 1905 and was then sold to the Transvaal Colony in South Africa, which, at the time, was under British rule. The Transvaal Colony’s plan was to gift the diamond to King Edward VII as a token of loyalty to his throne, and King Edward VII later announced that he would accept the precious gift.


Presently, The Cullinan has been cut into 9 significantly-sized stones, and 96 smaller stones. The largest cut of these 105 rare diamonds is the Cullinan I or the “Great Star of Africa,” which is a 530.2 carat pear shaped diamond that was then set into “The Scepter with the Cross” or the “Royal Scepter.”

Nine Cullinan Diamonds

It is safe to say that the discovery of The Cullinan Diamond is one of the greatest events in the gemological industry, since it is the world’s largest diamond ever discovered!